In ancient Macedonia thinking was
much the same as it is today. Little kingdoms fought bitterly for their lands. Pretenders
rose and fell. No one had vision. None had a plan. All was struggle. Except for one–one
gained his rule easily.
He was Midas, the poor homeowner.
Day by day Midas struggled just to get by. Each day was a "challenge" for
Midas. He lived in a marshy area of Asia Minor then called Phrygia. Lore has it that
years of civil unrest and aimless wandering of the Phrygians had led the elders to
call a meeting of the high council to decide which warring faction would rule next.
An ancient oracle had foretold that a man with a waggon would eventually come and
end their constant quarreling. Midas wandered into town with his ox-cart while the
high council met, discussing the oracle’s prediction. The oracle’s prediction had
come true. Midas was appointed king.
As a reminder of his good fortune,
to thank the gods for his rule, and to celebrate the end of aimless wandering for
the Phrygians, Midas erected a shrine and dedicated his waggon to Zeus. Instead of
being yoked to an ox, Midas placed his waggon in the center of the acropolis
yoked to a pole with a large knot. Curiously, the knot was an intricate and complex
Turkish knot, having no ends
exposed. Hundreds of tightly interwoven thongs of cornel-bark made the knot an impressive
centerpiece for the shrine.
There it remained as an important symbol
for the Phrygians.
Month after month the bark hardened,
and stories grew up around the shrine. It
was eventually moved and housed near the temple of Zeus Basileus in an ancient city
called Gordium, ruled by Midas’ father Gordius. Gordius,
being the proud father that he was, encouraged the lore about his son’s now famous
shrine. People speculated as to its purpose. Most
regarded it as a curious puzzle. Eventually, an oracle
foretold that whoever loosed the Gordian Knot would lord over the whole of Asia.
The lore grew and grew.
Over the years people living near
Gordium looked upon their puzzle relic with great
pride. It became quite a tourist attraction and generated lots of revenue for local
business. Residents considered it the duty of every wanderer to visit their shrine and attempt to solve their puzzle.
They regarded it as extremely unlucky for visitors to leave their city without trying
to loose the knot.
No one knows how many visitors attempted
of the Gordian Knot. One thing is certain.
Only one man solved it. We know him as Alexander
The Great. He did go on to conquer the world and rule all of Asia. Alexander
considered his victory over the Gordian Knot the most decisive battle he ever fought.